Yemen

Situation Report

Highlights

  • Fuel crisis increases food prices and continues to restrict the aid operation
  • Health update
  • Partners finalize Marib preparedness plan
  • Exchange rate in southern governorates reaches all-time low
  • CERF funding boosts COVID-19 response and underfunded health programmes
Yemen Humanitarian Update No. 8, August 2020
A displaced family at an IDP site in Al Dhale’e Governorate, February 2020. ©OCHA/YPN Mahmoud Fadel

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Yemen

Situation Report

Key Figures

24.1M
People in Need
14.3M
People in Acute Need
3.65M
Displaced People

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Contacts

Aiden O'Leary

Head of Office

Tapiwa Gomo

Head of Communication

Yemen

Situation Report
Trends

Lack of funding cripples the aid operation

Fifteen of 41 major United Nations humanitarian programmes in hard-hit Yemen have already been reduced or shut down and 30 more will be affected in coming weeks unless additional funding is received.

“It’s an impossible situation,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, in a statement on 23 September. “This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world yet we don’t have the resources we need to save the people who are suffering and will die if we don’t help. The consequences of under-funding are immediate, enormous and devastating,” she added. “Nearly every humanitarian worker has had to tell a hungry family or someone who is ill that we can’t help them because we don’t have funding.”

Between April and August, agencies were forced to reduce food distributions, cut health services in more than 300 facilities and halt specialized services for hundreds of thousands of traumatized and highly vulnerable women and girls.

Some 9 million people have been impacted by reductions in food assistance since April. A further 1.37 million will be affected from December unless additional funding is secured. A reduction in nutrition services in July affected more than 334,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women. If additional funding is not received, nutrition services for up to 530,000 children under age 2 may occur from December.

As of September, WHO has ended the Minimum Service Package (MSP) in 121 facilities, which has affected 1 million people. This is in addition to 1.3 million people deprived of access to life-saving health care services through the MSP due to cuts to the health sector since April, when WHO had to stop incentives payments to more than 1,800 medical staff delivering MSP in 135 facilities. If resources are not provided by the end of the year, a total of 9 million people will lose access to basic health care services.

In terms of outbreak control and response, if funding is not received by October, preparedness, surveillance and pre-positioning of supplies for outbreak response including diphtheria and dengue will stop across 23 Governorates. Up to 60 per cent of the 174 existing cholera treatment facilities (174 centres) and 100 per cent of the 300 existing preparedness and medical centres (300 facilities) will close. All 333 district rapid response teams will cease to perform core functions, including case investigation and outbreak monitoring. As many as 18 million people will be impacted, including 6 million children urgently in need of vaccination against deadly diseases like measles and polio.

“Donors have been incredibly generous during the war, providing billions of dollars to support people who have nowhere to go and no one else to turn to,” said Ms. Grande. “But this year, we are falling short, way short, of what we need.” By the end of September, only $1.3 billion of the $3.2 billion needed in 2020 had been received. “We can overcome this crisis if everyone contributes,” said Ms. Grande. “Everyone has a role.”

“We need authorities to put in place the conditions that allow humanitarians to deliver aid in accordance with universal humanitarian principles. We need parties to the conflict to lift the blockade and do everything possible to minimize the impact of the war on families and communities. We ask that donors stand in solidarity with the people of Yemen, dig deep and continue to provide the resources we need.”

“Humanitarians are doing their part. We are on the ground every day, working in one of the toughest environments and under some of the most difficult conditions, delivering assistance to millions of Yemenis,” said Ms. Grande. “This is an operation with real impact. Humanitarians helped to roll-back famine two years ago and we’ve worked with authorities to stem the worst cholera outbreak in modern history. We can do more, and we want to do more—but we need the right conditions and we need funding.”

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Yemen

Situation Report
Analysis

Fuel crisis increases food prices and continues to restrict the aid operation

After a slight improvement in the availability of fuel on the unofficial market in mid-August, the situation has worsened again. Approximately 130,000 metric tons (MT) of fuel was discharged at Al Hudaydah and Saleef ports between 29 July and 16 September, according to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNMVIM), about half the minimum monthly fuel requirements.

The Red Sea Ports Corporation reported that as of 8 September, 19 vessels carrying 485,456 MT of fuel and gas continue to be held, unable to proceed to Al Hudaydah ports to discharge their cargo.

Fuel costs in the informal market in northern governorates remain at more than double the official rate in many areas due to acute shortages which will likely push the prices of essential commodities upwards. According to the Yemen Food Security and Agriculture cluster (FSAC), the impact of the fuel crisis on the monthly food basket in the north remains minimal thus far, due to the flourishing parallel market for fuel. The effect is more pronounced on the prices of perishable food items which are transported on a daily basis and trends will be closely monitored.

The prices of locally produced commodities and farm produce have risen significantly because of an increase in irrigation costs of between 40 per cent and 80 per cent, and an increase in the cost of transporting produce to market. The price of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen the most, by up to 125 per cent for some produce, and locally produced cereals by up to 25 per cent in Amanat Al Asimah.

While FSAC has sufficient fuel to sustain the food assistance operation until December, delays to food distributions of up to a week have been reported in Dhamar, Sana’a, Marib, Hajjah and Al Bayda governorates. This is due to a combination of factors, including fuel shortages, active hostilities and challenging physical terrain in some areas. Increased transport costs for beneficiaries of between 20 per cent and 50 per cent have been reported in Ibb, Al Hudyadah and Hajjah governorates. The cost of monitoring and field visits has also increased, by between 20 and 50 per cent, mainly in Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Ibb, and Sa’ada governorates, while the cost of transporting building materials for cash for work programmes is up by between 30 and 50 per cent in Sa’ada and Al Hudaydah governorates.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Emergency Response
Health worker administers the safe polio vaccine to a child in Taizz City. Source: WHO

Health update

Efforts to enhance the COVID-19 response continue while challenges persist

By 26 September, 2,034 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Yemen, 588 deaths and 1,262 recoveries in 11 governorates since the first case was reported on 10 April 2020. In the month to 26 September, only 72 new cases were reported, 21 deaths, and 129 recoveries. While the number of reported cases has continued to slow, health professionals remain concerned that the official epi curve underestimates the extent of COVID-19 in Yemen for reasons that include a lack of testing facilities and official reporting. The suspension of operations at Sana’a International Airport on 9 September is an additional major obstruction to the COVID-19 response, delaying the arrival of COVID-19 experts, critical medical and other humanitarian supplies, including 207 MT of COVID-19 response equipment. Despite these setbacks, partners continue to work to improve the response, including by increasing surveillance, screening and testing capacity; identifying innovative ways of encouraging behavioural change; boosting intensive care unit facilities; and improving data by working closely with the authorities.

Partners respond to polio and measles outbreaks as vaccination levels fall

Fifteen children have been paralyzed in a polio outbreak in several districts in Sa’ada Governorate in northern Yemen. Between 31 January and 18 June, 14 cases were identified–children aged between 8 months and 13 years were identified with another case confirmed retrospectively from June 2019.

In parallel, 20 cases of measles cases have been reported in several districts in Sa’ada Governorate since the beginning of the year, including in Sahar District (11 cases) and Alsafrah District (7 cases). Cases were also reported in the neighbouring governorates of Amran (9 cases), Hajjah (10 cases) and Al Jawf (1 case). Forty-seven per cent of confirmed cases reported countrywide were in these four governorates.

Both outbreaks are the direct consequence of increasingly low levels of immunity among children. The 15 polio cases in Sa’ada are clustered in an area with very low routine immunization rates. Immunization and the delivery of healthcare have long been disrupted by the conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation, fueling a significant decline in immunization rates. WHO and UNICEF teams at the country and regional levels are supporting the health authorities in Yemen to mount a rapid response to the outbreaks. Affected children are being traced, and every effort is being made to ensure more children access essential immunization.

Vaccination remains the only way to protect children from polio and measles but unimpeded access to children is crucial to deliver healthcare and protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Efforts to secure vaccines are ongoing. However, the suspension of Sana'a airport has delayed the arrival of more than 2 million doses of the polio vaccine scheduled to arrive early in September, putting lives at risk. In a joint statement on 11 September, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari, and UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Region, Ted Chaiban, urged the authorities to allow immediate access for polio vaccinations, "We call upon all stakeholders, especially parties to conflict and those with influence over them, to facilitate unimpeded and sustainable humanitarian access to health workers to be able to reach every child with polio vaccine."

Success in reducing the number of suspected cholera cases jeopardized by funding shortage

A total of 182,476 suspected cholera cases were reported during the first 8 months of 2020, a 71 per cent reduction compared with the same period last year when 623,977 suspected cases were reported. The number of associated deaths is down to 56 in 2020, a 93 per cent reduction on the 862 deaths reported in the same period last year.

Health partners continue to support health authorities in Yemen to respond to cholera, including with case management; surveillance and laboratory investigations; hotspot mapping, planning for oral cholera vaccine (OCV) campaigns; WASH services; and risk communications. As with other aspects of the health response, the cholera response faces a series of challenges, including a lack of resources and suspension of incentive payments for medical staff, a reduction in health-seeking behaviours due to COVID-19, and delays to the shipment of OCVs.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Emergency Response

Partners finalize preparedness plan as fighting in Marib displaces an estimated 1,400 families in September

The recent uptick in fighting in Marib continued throughout September. Hostilities reduced in some parts of the governorate towards the end of the month, while in Al Bayda, to the south of Marib, there was a major increase in conflict-related incidents. Close to 1,400 newly displaced families were identified in Marib in the month to 26 September according to IOM, most of them displaced within Marib Governorate. Displaced families have fled active fighting – many of the estimated 353 families displaced between 13 and 19 September were temporarily trapped while attempting to flee ongoing hostilities around villages in Rahaba District. Partner capacity in Marib is stretched, and there is a shortage of supplies of shelter materials and non-food items (NFIs). Two thousand emergency shelter kits and 1,500 NFI kits are to be transferred from contingency stock in Aden to Marib to cover immediate needs. Lack of partner presence on the ground continues to pose a major challenge, and efforts are underway to mobilize more partners to establish a presence in Marib.

Partners have reported that ongoing hostilities have restricted humanitarian access to areas hardest hit by the fighting, including Medghel and Rahaba districts.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Trends

Exchange rate in southern governorates reaches all-time low

By the third week of September, the value of the Yemeni rial on the unofficial market had fallen to YER850/US$ in Aden, down from YER800/ US$ at the end of August 2020 when it reached the previous historic low of two years ago. It rallied slightly exchanging at YER780/US$ by 28 September, but falling again to YER805/US$ by the end of September. In just the first 8 months of 2020 the rial depreciated by 25 per cent in southern governorates, down by 250 per cent of its pre-conflict value. The risk of further depreciation during coming months is high with unpredictable sources of foreign currency and levels of foreign currency reserves.

The Cash Consortium in Yemen attributed the rapid depreciation of the rial between June and August to a number of factors, including excessive printing of new notes by the Central Bank in Aden, limited availability of foreign currency on the local market, the active engagement of currency brokers in the foreign exchange market, the effect of COVID-19 on markets and livelihoods, a sharp decline in remittances, the conflict between the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the internationally recognized government (IRG), and the near exhaustion of reserves deposited by Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the Central Bank two years ago. Other key sources of foreign exchange remain depressed and with more than 90 per cent import dependency for wheat and other food commodities, in the absence of adequate official sources of foreign currency, importers have had to increasingly to rely on informal sources for US dollars that are more expensive than the official, preferential exchange rate.

The continued depreciation of local currency against the main foreign currencies has continued to exacerbate the struggling Yemen economy. The net impact on the economy continue to be observed through increased prices for basic food and non-food commodities prices , loss of livelihoods, increased malnutrition and over-dependency on food aid by the majority of the population.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Emergency Response

CERF funding boosts COVID-19 response and underfunded health programmes

The Second Reserve Allocation, launched by the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF) on 21 August to provide life-line funding for critical elements of the COVID-19 response and support the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), is in process. The allocation injected US$16.8 million into the COVID-19 response, to pay hazard allowances to health workers and fund Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCM). In addition, the allocation provided $3 million for the distribution of emergency kits to newly displaced people in hard-to-reach locations.

In September, OCHA supported the Humanitarian Country Team in developing a proposal for $35 million to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).The objective of the CERF allocation is to support the public health response with a specific focus on women and girls. Funding will focus on enhancing reproductive health services and maintaining the Minimum Service (health) Package in priority areas, including WASH services, and alleviating the nutritional impact of the current crisis on children under age 5 and women and girls.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Emergency Response

Locust infestations threaten to exacerbate food insecurity in Yemen

Above-average rainfall in Yemen in June and July provided favourable desert locust breeding conditions enabling the formation of hopper bands and mature swarms in areas in Marib, Al Jawf, Abyan, Shabwah, the Hadramaut plateau and Al Mahrah, Hajjah and Al Hudaydah governorates. Large desert locust infestations were reported in central areas of Hadramaut, Al Mahrah, Al Jawf and Marib governorates, where they destroyed cereal crops, animal feed, vegetables and fruit trees. Swarms of mature desert locust were also observed in Taizz, Ibb, Aden, Marib and Sana’a governorates. In addition, a few swarms were seen in the foothills near the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden coastal plains. There have also been sightings of locusts on the southern coast near Aden, in the interior near Shabwah, and on the eastern plateau between Raymah Governorate and the Oman border.

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the ongoing conflict has exacerbated the situation, impeding an effective response to locust infestations since swarms formed in 2018, unlike the last two major outbreaks in 2007 and 2013, when Yemen was able to effectively monitor and control forming locust swarms. Production losses caused by locusts can be a driver of food insecurity and have a long-term impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni farmers, who are already vulnerable and have in recent months been forced to cope with multiple shocks, including ongoing conflict, floods and COVID-19. FAO has warned that the recent wave of desert locust attacks in Yemen could potentially further endanger the survival and sustenance of large sections of the rural population. FAO has also warned that sizeable locust populations are likely to build up in Yemen that could lead to swarms reinvading the Horn of Africa, and perhaps the Indo-Pakistan area.

FAO has stepped up the response to desert locust to curb the spread of the pest, preventing production losses and protecting livelihoods. It activated fasttrack procedures so that operations can be planned and launched with greater flexibility, including rapid deployment of staff and scaled-up programmes. In addition, FAO has already mobilized US$ 1 million from its own resources to step up control operations in Yemen.

FAO aims to limit, as far as possible, the desert locust population, so it does not become a fullyfledged plague. It is doing this by conducting surveillance operations to detect locust populations and rapid interventions to control dangerous locust infestations before they can cause damage to crops. Its ground teams have run control operations in more than 35,000 hectares since January 2020.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Background

Nearly 2,500 houses damaged by fighting in the first half of 2020

During the first half of 2020, 2,490 houses were damaged by fighting in 547 separate incidents, according to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), only 2 per cent fewer than in the previous 6 months, when 2,530 houses were damaged. The average number of houses damaged each month is down by 13 per cent from 106 per month in 2019 to 92 per month in 2020, though since November 2019, the number of incidents reported each month had been gradually increasing.

Eighty-six per cent of houses affected in the first half of 2020 were concentrated in three governorates, all with active frontlines in the north of Yemen: Al Hudaydah, Sa’ada and Marib – 1,341 in Hudaydah Governorate alone. In Sa’ada, which borders Saudi Arabia, 563 houses were hit, and there was almost daily shellfire on the western borders and increasing reports of air strikes across the governorate. Another 237 houses were damaged in Marib, where hostilities have escalated this year with ground fighting and air strikes.

One in every four civilian casualties across Yemen occurred in homes in the first six months of 2020 in contrast with one in every three in 2018 and 2019. However, in some areas the proportion was far higher, half of the 47 civilian casualties reported in Marib in 2020, where shifting frontlines in the governorate have left civilians with little opportunity to flee, were in the home, and houses in Marib City have come under missile fire. In Al Hudaydah, where fighting persists in some densely populated urban areas, a third of 76 civilian casualties occurred in the home. Women and children have been most affected by such attacks – of 2,847 civilians harmed between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2020, 1,540 (54 per cent) were women and children, and the proportion has been steadily rising. Attacks on homes are also a cause of displacement and can have serious psychosocial effects across different generations.

Shelling and air strikes caused 96 per cent of all attacks on houses since the start of 2018. While twice as many incidents were caused by shelling, air strikes caused 25 per cent more fatalities than shellfire – 635 civilians have been killed by air attacks on civilian houses compared with 507 civilians killed by shellfire on homes since the start of 2018.

More multiple civilian casualty incidents reported in August and at least one attack on a health facility

In what appears to be the third air strike in less than a month to cause multiple civilian casualties in the north of Yemen, on 7 August partners reported that nine children were killed and another seven children injured, along with two women and a man, in a strike in the Haraad area in Kabb wa ash Sha’af District in Al Jawf Governorate. In a statement condemning the attack, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Ms. Lise Grande, stated “We have to be absolutely clear about this. The primary responsibility of a party to the conflict is to do everything possible to protect civilians and ensure they have the assistance they need to survive”. Just three days later, on 10 August, protection partners reported that a civilian was killed and another 11 were injured, including 6 children, when artillery shells hit Al Jah Al Ala in Bayt Al Faqih in Al Hudaydah. Health partners confirmed 11 casualties were received at Bayt Al Faqih Hospital and that one was referred to Bajil Hospital and two others to Sana’a for treatment.

On 17 August, attacks were reported on the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Taizz. In the first attack, soldiers looted an ambulance and medicines in the Al Hasab area of Al Mudhaffar District after assaulting the driver. On the same day, soldiers forced their way into the Public Health and Population Office on Al Thawra Street in Al Qaihrah District, assaulting and expelling its employees, forcing the office to close. Medical facilities and transport are protected under international humanitarian law and should not be attacked.

Towards the end of August, there were reports of an upsurge in terrorist activity in Al Bayda Governorate leading to multiple civilian deaths and included another attack on a health centre.

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Yemen

Situation Report
Visual

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Yemen

Situation Report
Emergency Response

Yemen Humanitarian Fund allocates US$20 million for COVID-19 response and Rapid Response Mechanism

In August, the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF) launched a reserve allocation to provide immediate life-line funding for the COVID-19 response and Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) – an immediate life-saving relief package for newly displaced families provided in the first three days of displacement. The allocation provides $10 million to UNICEF to pay hazard allowances to health workers; $1 million to WHO to monitor the payment of allowances; $6 million to UNICEF for COVID-19 Risk Communication and Community Engagement; and $3 million to UNFPA for the distribution of RRM emergency kits.

The funding for hazard allowances will pay more than 4,000 health workers in 37 health facilities designated as COVID-19 treatment centres for severe and critical cases across Yemen. The YHF is covering half of the cost of the allowances, with the other half covered by a bilateral donor. Independent monitors contracted by WHO will check that the allowances are disbursed properly and transparently.

The funding for UNICEF will also be used to mobilize 10,000 community volunteers and influencers who will raise awareness among millions of Yemenis of measures that limit COVID-19 transmission. In addition, UNICEF will procure and distribute Infection Prevention and Control kits to 30,000 families and implement shielding measures for vulnerable groups.

The RRM funding will enable UNFPA to provide assistance to 180,000 newly displaced people over the next 3 months, including those likely to flee fighting in Marib Governorate. RRM assistance includes food rations and hygiene and dignity kits.

Central Emergency Response Fund allocates $35 million for critically underfunded health programmes

The YHF funding has been closely coordinated with a $35 million allocation to Yemen from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), recently announced by the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The CERF allocation will provide funding for top-priority underfunded programmes with specific attention to life-saving interventions for women and girls. The focus will be on enhancing reproductive health services and support for the Minimum Service Package (MSP) – a health delivery mechanism that strengthens access to health care services, including preventative services that reduce the risk of the transmission of deadly diseases, such as cholera. It will also support the provision of nutrition assistance to children under age 5 and to women and girls. Overall, the CERFfunded interventions will benefit nearly 3 million vulnerable Yemenis.

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